Biomass conversion of Atikokan plant commences

By Erin Voegele | September 17, 2012

The Ontario Ministry of Energy recently announced that Ontario Power Generation’s Atikokan Generating Station has burned its last piece of coal, and that conversion to biomass power is now underway. According to the ministry, once fully converted to biomass, the plant will be capable of generate more than 200 MW of clean power. The facility is expected to be operational by late 2014.

According to information published by OPG earlier this year, the conversion is expected to cost approximately $170 million. The project includes plant modifications to provide peak capacity and the construction of a fuel storage and handling system that can handle up to 90,000 metric tons of biomass fuel annually. AeCON has been tasked with the design and construction of the fuel handling and storage systems. Doosan is completing the combustion modifications.

“Today we are one step closer to eliminating the use of dirty coal while building a modern, reliable energy system that families and businesses know they can count on,” said Minister of Energy Chris Bentley.  By reducing harmful emissions we are ensuring a cleaner, healthier Ontario for current and future generations.”

According to the Ministry of Energy, with the conversion of the Atikokan Generating Station now underway, the province has already shut down 11 of its 19 coal-fired power plants. In addition, Ontario has cut its use of coal by nearly 90 percent since 2003.

“Ending coal-fired electricity generation in Ontario is the largest reduction of greenhouse gases in North America,” said Minister of Environment Jim Bradley. “It protects our health, fights climate change, and keeps Ontario on the green energy path.”

All of OPG’s plants are expected to cease using coal by the end of 2014.